Being in a dry environment, such as on a plane, can cause dehydration and heart issues.
According to Mellanie True Hills, CEO of StopAfib.org, a patient advocacy organization that hosts the number one arrhythmia site and one of the top five heart disease sites worldwide, “The significantly dry air on a plane wicks moisture out of the body, causing dehydration quickly. Dehydration thickens the blood and depletes the body of essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Magnesium regulates the heart rhythm and potassium helps it work. Inadequate levels of potassium or magnesium can trigger abnormal heart rhythms, including atrial fibrillation (AFib).”
She continues: “If your heart has ever felt like a flopping fish, a bag of wiggly worms, or fluttering butterflies, you may have atrial fibrillation [aka AFib], the most common irregular heartbeat.”
For some people, AFib symptoms are fleeting and disappear on their own. However, the abnormal rhythm can cause blood not to be pushed out of the heart to the rest of the body, and thus it pools and can form a clot Already thickened blood from dehydration makes this more likely. That clot could then travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
AFib is just one of many types of abnormal heart rhythms that can make up holiday heart syndrome, a condition whose name derives from emergency rooms seeing an increase of people with heart trouble during holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Day, spring break, and Super Bowl Sunday. Overindulgence in food and alcohol causes an abnormal heart rhythm and chest pain. Business travelers, especially those going to conferences, often have the same overindulgence issues. Adding dehydration to the mix can trigger chest pain, which should not be ignored.
“Drinking mineral water, or even club soda, not only keeps you hydrated but also replaces the minerals you are losing. I think jet lag is mostly caused by dehydration, and by drinking mineral water both during the trip and when I arrive, I rarely suffer from it even when traveling internationally,” suggests Mellanie. She recommends drinking at least six to twelve ounces of water per hour on the plane. Yes, this means you will have to get up and use the restroom, which in itself is an excellent way to avoid a blood clot.
Your body needs water to regulate temperature, digest food, eliminate waste, and keep your blood flowing. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it will hold on to fat, and your blood will thicken. If you have reached a plateau in weight loss or have trouble managing your blood pressure, pay attention to the amount of water you drink each day.
The bigger the body—the more fluid you need. Without the proper amount of water, your body doesn’t function correctly. It is more than just dry skin or dry mouth—dehydration reduces your body’s ability to flow. This can result in achy joints and muscles, high blood pressure, reduced kidney function, and that’s just the start of the list of possible issues.
To figure out how much water you should drink each day, divide your weight (in pounds) by two. You need to drink that number of ounces of water each day.
Weight: 150 lbs.
150 ÷ 2 = 75
This person should drink 75 at least ounces of water per day.
Does it have to be water?
Well, no, but water is best for the majority of your fluid intake. Water doesn’t contain anything more—no calories, no additives, nothing extra; it is just water.
If you don’t like drinking plain water, you can dress it up with:
- Unsweetened herbal tea (hot or cold)
- A squirt of fruit juice
- Bubbles (carbonated water)
Other beverages can be used in moderation to fulfill your need for fluid:
- Unsweetened coffee is fine as some of your fluids, although it contains caffeine, but no additional calories. Limit it to three or four cups per day. Some people shouldn’t drink caffeine at all. Talk to your doctor about how much caffeine per day is healthy for you.
- Milk works well for some of your fluid intake. The added calories are offset by the beneficial vitamins and minerals.
- Fruit juices carry quite a few calories and should be watered down or limited to a small glass per day.
Things you shouldn’t count in your daily fluid intake:
- Soda: Treat soda as liquid candy—it is loaded with calories your body doesn’t need and often can’t use.
- Diet soda: High levels of sodium counteract your hydration efforts.
- Sports drinks: Unless you need to replace electrolytes because you have been profusely sweating for an extended period of time, you should not use a sports drink in lieu of water. Originally designed to aid athletes losing electrolytes through sweat, sports drinks have somehow become a casual beverage. Seriously, it isn’t a “health drink”—stop it.
Are you getting enough water each day?
Keep track today and find out. Experiment with increasing your intake. How does it make you feel? Yes, you may have to visit the restroom more often, but a bit more walking doesn’t hurt either!